free html hit counter Google's New Mission? "To Organize the World's information (Unless It Starts With "i") ....." - John Battelle's Search Blog

Google's New Mission? "To Organize the World's information (Unless It Starts With "i") ….."

By - May 13, 2010

googmission.pngI had a good call today with Dennis Woodside, who runs North American Sales for Google, and Susan Wojcicki, who runs products. Both are long timers at Google, Susan is pretty much a llfer – she joined in 1999.

Both are joining me on stage at the CM Summit next month, a first for Google to have ad products and sales represented in one onstage interview. We had a great catchup and prep for the conversation, which I think will be enlightening.

After we hung up, I contemplated my earlier posts about Google’s brand, and realized I had forgotten to talk to them about one question that’s lingered in my mind for some time. In essence, it’s this: “What is Google’s brand to you? To your customers?” Then I imagined their response – something along the lines of “our mission hasn’t changed – we’re still focused on organizing the world’s information, and making it universally accessible.”

True – that mission certainly covers most of what Google does today (though it’s a mouthful for the average consumer to grok). But then something struck me – and its name was Apple.

Allow me to explain. Earlier in the day I was in the offices of Adobe, meeting with various folks and talking business. Apple was very much on everyone’s minds given Adobe had just launched its “We (Heart) Apple” and “We (Heart) Open” campaign (see my post here).

All this was stewing in my head as I contemplated Google’s mission on the drive home. And it struck me – Google was born back in the late 1990s, when it seemed inevitable that everything – all the world’s knowledge – was going to be on the web, eventually. It was just presumed that the web would swallow the world – and for ten years, it largely did.

But in the past year, that world has fractured, and increasingly, a new planet has emerged, one that is best represented by Apple. It’s the Planet of the Apps, and while it’s rich in experience, data, and information, it’s largely sealed off from Google’s (or anyone else’s) search spiders.

This is another way of pointing out what folks have called the SplinterNet or the Fractured Web, but somehow, I found it rather poignant to think that Google’s ambitious mission is, in a very real sense, threatened by Apple’s approach to the world. No longer can we assume that “The Web is the World” – because increasingly, it’s not.

This is due, in part, to Google’s own ambition – had it stayed a pencil – just search – Apple probably would not see the company as a threat. I wondered to myself, as I drove home from San Jose, whether Apple would let a third party search engine, one that was not competing for mobile, location, commerce, media access, etc – crawl its App World and bring it out into the light?

I’m starting a dialog with folks from Apple on Friday. I’ll ask. I’m guessing the answer is no, but it’s worth a shot. One can dream, after all. I’ve been doing just that for 25 years in this industry, and I’m not going to stop now.

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11 thoughts on “Google's New Mission? "To Organize the World's information (Unless It Starts With "i") ….."

  1. Impressive that they can take a step like this. If they truly intend to be #1, they should allow openness.

  2. Marina Tunes says:

    Let us know Apple’s answer. I still believe and share Google’s (old) mission, maybe it’s time to change my mind.
    Apple and Google have a lot of potential to explore, don’t they? I live in Brazil, growing market, and these brands have to learn, teach and consolidate themselves here.
    US market is pretty mature, is our model on SEM practices, I’m always looking for its development.


  3. Lester Puppo says:

    Yes! Let us know Apple’s answer! However, as you mention on the article, it is clear the answer is going to be “no”. This is kind of predictable if you look at Apple tendency to keep their closed philosophy. And after all, in my opinion that philosophy is right, and its their right as well.

  4. Sid says:

    “…organizing the world’s information, and making it universally accessible.”

    For a fee.

    I really struggle w/ the concept of “do no evil”. What does this mean for a publicly traded corporation w/ a $158B market cap? Brin and Page are just one of many owners, after all.

    Why should Google have the privilege of monetizing the iPxxxx apps? Why doesn’t Google give all their data to Apple to remove the Fractured Web so that Apple can monetize it? Heck, why don’t Google and Apple and Bling and Facebook and Twitter just give it all to you and me, John, and we’ll make sure it’s all integrated. And monetized.

    I don’t have even the remotest notion of what privatization of data relationships means. I don’t think monetization is necessarily bad. I think there is too much free stuff on the Internet already.

    Bob Blakey put forth a seminal idea when he wrote about the Identity Oracle. This is the idea that if an identity provider (read, private data owner) releases information, then it is now no longer owned. Instead, to monetize identity, the IdP needs to only answer questions based on the data. This is exactly what card transaction authorization is in the payment network, and is exactly what Google does with their advertising offerings.

    I sense the Tao in all this, a fundamental feature of the universe. That means that there will be a set of immutable truths. You are good at figuring that out, John. I, too, look forward to hearing what Apple has to say.

    And of course, I bet user-centric identity has a part to play.

  5. Paul says:

    A lot of speculation on Apple vs. Google is going on, but the Government made the head of Google resign from the Board of Apple. Duh. Surprise. Was there not a bit of conflict of interest…and now the civil suit for Google stealing proprietary stuff.
    Duh. Who would have guessed.

  6. Paul says:

    A lot of speculation on Apple vs. Google is going on, but the Government made the head of Google resign from the Board of Apple. Duh. Surprise. Was there not a bit of conflict of interest…and now the civil suit for Google stealing proprietary stuff.
    Duh. Who would have guessed.

    Now Clearwire, Google, Sprint and Warner are all in bed together under a single entity, Clear.

  7. Steve says:

    I am sure they won’t be open to the idea, but it is a great idea.

  8. Von says:

    I would say that Google is far more of a threat to Apple than Apple is to Google. The nature of Google’s world view is a problem for Apple. Yes, Apple is closing off it’s app world from Google’s searches but that doesn’t seem all that important really. It’s still about the net … the all important data will be maintained there, it will just also need to offer an API.

  9. Ariel says:

    You’re looking at this wrong. Google’s mission may not fit with offline apps, but if you look at Google’s approach to mobile, it’s all about the Nexus between mobile and web (hence the name “Nexus”).

    This is where I believe Apple falls, because they only offer consumption devices, they don’t offer any services. Or, at least, services that will make it in the age of the cloud.

    Everything is moving toward the cloud, no matter how much a charismatic and romantic company such as Apple will fight against it and delay it. You can say much the same about desktop programs (where Google has no jurisdiction). But Google has their own idea about desktops today as well (Chrome OS).

    As far as I can tell, Apple is of the last era. Google is the pioneer of the new one, and then of course they won’t fit together. In the meantime.

    Who do you think will get it their way?

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